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What distinguishes innovation leaders?

personal & Ledarskap | Johan saks | 17 January 2016

PA’s Johan Saks, an innovation expert, discusses the characteristics of innovation leaders in an article in Personal & Ledarskap magazine.

Johan outlines how the increasing use of digital is fundamentally changing business processes in a large number of industries and that Sweden is at the forefront of innovation based on digital technology. He goes onto explore the results of a recent PA study that shows why some companies are able to translate good ideas into innovative commercial products and services that bring improved profitability, while others cannot.

He sets out how the more successful companies are those that manage to anchor innovation in the corporate culture and where management actively supports and encourages innovation among employees. Recruiting talent from innovative brands can also help. So TeliaSonera's decision to partner with Spotify and bring Martin Lorentzon onto its own board was a part of the company's strategy to develop next-generation telecommunications services. Johan also highlights the importance of reward schemes in helping Swedish companies stimulate and realise the benefits of innovative power of their employees.

The article goes on to outline the five key steps and questions managers should ask themselves to measure and support innovation at their company:

 1. Be visionary and focus on your own contribution, asking whetheryour company has an explicit innovation strategy with a clear definition of innovation. And then asking what do you do personally to encourage innovation at the company.

2. Reinvigorate the board, asking does the company have the right mix in the board of directors, management team and management level that supports innovation. And then asking what your role is and how you can strengthen your influence in various forums.

3. Learn from those who have succeeded, asking how familiar is your company with what your competitors are doing to meet the demands of customer experiences. And then ask when did you last get inspiration from key spokespeople in other industries.

4. Invest in the channels that your customers prioritise, asking does your company make use of digital technology in the innovation process. And then ask how do you / your department keep your clients loyal and satisfied over time.

5. Encourage creativity and innovation, asking does your company have a reward system that encourages innovation among employees. And then ask, do your employees have the necessary authority to develop and pursue new ideas.

Johan Saks is an innovation expert at PA Consulting Group 

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